October 2020
From the Superintendent leiasnyder
As you know, our next superintendent, Leia Snyder will begin with us next month. Leia and I will work closely together during a time of training and transition until my retirement at the end of the year. 

The role of HCDDS superintendent will require Leia to forge relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders and be familiar with all aspects of the agency's operations. This training period will equip her to be successful in her role and continue to pursue our mission in Hamilton County.

During this transition, I'll be introducing Leia to all of our internal teams, as well as many of our stakeholders. To make sure we continue to keep people safe and reduce risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, these introductions will take place virtually. Leia will meet our staff in a series of Zoom meetings her first week. In early December, she'll meet virtually with advocates, providers, and families. You can find more details about these meetings and a link to RSVP below.

I continue to take pride in the incredible creativity of our staff throughout the pandemic. We've been required to take extraordinary measures to keep our employees, providers, and people we serve safe. 

Despite all the restrictions and precautions, I continually see inspiring stories of how we're adjusting our work to make sure people get the support they need. I'm thankful for all that you're doing!


Alice C. Pavey
This year marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Did you know that HCDDS provided employment support to more than 640 people with developmental disabilities last year? Hamilton County DD Services is proud to  celebrate NDEAM, and our employment navigation team is here to support job seekers and businesses. 

We're also happy to celebrate success stories like Keshawn Martin, who has worked at Five Guys Burgers and Fries since the end of September. At Five Guys, Keshawn does a variety of food prep like cutting potatoes, as well as general cleaning around the restaurant. 
HCDDS Employment Navigator Julie Combs has been working with Keshawn for more than a year. She helped connect him to Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and job developers, as well as assisting him with career goals and looking for jobs in the community.
"He was very reserved until we built our relationship and established his trust with us," she said. "I'm really proud of him, and I am impressed with the caliber of his work ethic and his determination."
Before getting this job, Keshawn worked at Kroger and Longhorn Steakhouse. "I want to get my own apartment," he said about why he likes having a job in the community. 

We'd also like to wish Tom Fessler a very happy retirement! He worked at the North College Hill McDonald's for 20 years. "I liked the job, and the people that I worked for," he said. "They all got along well with me and they were very nice."

Before finding his job at McDonald's, Tom worked at Beckman Adult Center, then operated by Hamilton County DD Services (HCDDS). 

"When we started Community Connections, some of us did job development and took people who worked at the adult centers into the community to look for jobs," said Kelle Crawford, who now works as an HCDDS transition consultant. 

"He initially was just going to do the lobby, but we introduced more jobs as he mastered each one, like washing dishes or making fries."

In his retirement, Tom is looking forward to attending a new day program, and continuing to bowl and golf with his friends from Special Olympics.

Also, for those who are working, a STABLE Account is a way to save money without impacting public benefits like SSI or Medicaid. Read more about STABLE Accounts and NDEAM in this note from Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague. 
Election Day Reminders

In Hamilton County, you have until noon on Saturday, Oct. 31 to request an absentee ballot. You can also vote early at the Board of Elections, or in-person at your precinct on Election Day. 

Find other voting tips and information from advocates Diana Mairose and Robert Shuemak on our website
Guide for police interactionsLeiaIntro

UC UCEDD developed a new brochure for people with intellectual, cognitive or developmental disabilities who may get involved with law enforcement or the criminal justice system, as both victims, and suspects or offenders. Find the brochure here.

Want printed copies? Contact Erica Coleman.  
Virtual meetings with Leia Snyder

New Superintendent Leia Snyder begins Monday, Nov. 16. During her transition period with current Superintendent Alice Pavey, Leia will be meeting virtually with our stakeholders: advocates on Dec. 1, providers on Dec. 2, and families on Dec. 3. 

Click here to RSVP for a virtual meeting with Leia.
Making her voice heard
Maya Velasquez is looking forward to voting in her first election. "It feels pretty new," she said. "I'm nervous, but really excited."

Velasquez had wanted to vote for a long time and recently turned 18. "When we were filling out the registration form, I saw a line that made me wonder if she could vote because I am her guardian," said Kristen Barker.

They reached out to HCDDS and got connected to the advocacy team. Advocate Diana Mairose helped them contact the Hamilton County Board of Elections, which confirmed she could vote. Velasquez is very interested in politics and the issues, and plans to vote by mail.

"I want to vote," Velasquez said. "I've been waiting for this a lot of my life--to have a voice in issues that are important to me."
Working together, finding solutionsBruce
Bruce Meyers thrives on routine, and he was sad when COVID-19 forced his day program to close in March. After being at home for months, Bruce began attending East Side Day Academy, which is a smaller setting and minimizes his risk.

Transportation was an issue, given the distance from his home, but independent provider Ciara Stewart stepped up and takes Bruce to and from his day program each day. 

"Ciara is a huge reason Bruce has been so successful. Not to mention, he really looks forward to seeing her every single day!" said Tamie Peel, who has supported Bruce through shared living for 18 years. 

"This team is outstanding-they not only gave Bruce purpose again each day, but they impacted our family as a whole and enabled us to work and resume our normal schedules."

Read the full story on our website.
CSO Upcoming Concert Series
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is back and better than ever! 

You can check them out on  YouTube or Facebook
You don't want to miss this 100% Virtual Concert Series on Saturdays at 8 p.m.  
  • Oct. 31-Live From Music Hall: Autumn Celebration
  • Nov. 21-Live From Music Hall: You Have The Right To Remain Silent
  • Dec. 5-Live From Music Hall: Mozart & Ravel
  • Dec. 12-Live From Music Hall: Holiday Pops
Learn more about the upcoming digital concert dates here.
Supporting people through trauma-informed care ProjectCARE
Recently the Ohio Department of DD featured the HCDDS partnership with Project CARE, which stands for which stands for Community Accessibility Responsiveness and Education. Project CARE is for people with disabilities who have been impacted by violence or trauma. They provide services such as referrals, safety planning, coordinated intervention services, and provision of prevention programming that are essential to the health and well-being of abuse survivors with disabilities. 

According to Matt BavInka, Regional Liaison for DODD, "Hamilton County has done an excellent job of balancing individual rights and risks during the COVID-19 pandemic" and have taken "some creative approaches to reflect the board's commitment to person-centered planning, while still keeping staff and service-recipients safe." 

Project CARE self-advocates meet on Zoom to check in with each other. The changes since COVID-19 have eliminated transportation issues that prevented regular attendance and allowed for more frequent check-ins and communication between participants.

Do you like art and want to connect to others in a positive way? Join Project CARE and the Cincinnati Art Museum for monthly meetups! The next one, "Healing Through Art" is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12. Click here for details
Common Threads Network suptsearch

The challenges of COVID-19 have been amplified for families supporting someone with developmental disabilities. More than ever, it's critically important for families to have up-to-date information. 

Join Common Threads Network on Nov. 18 for its annual update series to learn how Ohio's DD service system is responding to today's challenges. Leaders from the Ohio Department of DD will share a variety of updates with families. 

This virtual session is open to families and DD professionals. Click here for more information and to register.
Retirement planning

Thinking about retirement? This webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 6-7 p.m. is for singles or couples planning for retirement who also need to consider planning for a family member with DD who needs long-term support.  

This webinar will include stories and examples to outline some key elements of successful retirement planning for families with a loved one with special needs.

The webinar is free and the login information will be provided in advance. Click here to register
Living a full life MattMason
Years ago, a teacher told Matt Mason's parents they should keep him home and enjoy that time because he wouldn't amount to anything in life. "I wish I could go back to that teacher and say, 'look at me now,' because I absolutely proved her wrong," he said.

Mason, 39, has cerebral palsy and has a full life. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology, volunteers with his church, and lives independently. He credits the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which turned 30 this year, with opening doors and opportunities in his life. 

"Matt has such a positive outlook on life. He's patient and he looks toward the future," said Jennifer Morris, who has been his HCDDS service and support administrator since 2013. "He's passionate about his interests and that carries through to different aspects of his life. He doesn't see his disability as limiting-whatever obstacles needed to be overcome, he found a way. He didn't become disillusioned and it didn't deter him."

Read his story on our website
The University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital are conducting a survey to provide better information and resources to the general public about COVID-19 and personal safety. Survey results will help researchers, healthcare professionals, and public decision-makers better understand the public's perspective regarding COVID-19. Participation is voluntary and answers are anonymous. Click here to take the survey
Find the latest information on our website
  • Autism Support Group for Parents/Caregivers. 7-8 p.m. Tuesdays. Join online for this Parent/Caregiver Support Group. Click here to learn more.
  • Zoom Connection Hour. 2-3 p.m. Tuesdays and 5-6 p.m. Wednesdays. For adults we serve who want to socialize and meet others with similar interests. Click here for details.
  • ASGC Teen Time Hangouts. 5:30-7 p.m. Fridays on Zoom. Trivia, bingo and games of all sorts can be found! Email for information.
  • Retirement Planning. 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4. Retirement planning that includes the future needs of a family member with DD who needs long-term support can be a challenge. This presentation will outline key elements that have worked for others. Click here to RSVP. 
  • New Medications & Treatments for Epilepsy. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4. The Epilepsy Alliance Ohio hosts this educational series. Learn more here.
  •  SALT Talks-Special Needs Trust. 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10Click here to register.
  • Future is Now6-7:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 12, 17 & 19. These free sessions are designed for families that include a member with DD whose caregiver is 60 or older. Learn more here.
  • Veteran's Day. Wednesday, Nov. 11. All HCDDS Offices are closed. 
  • OcaliConline 2020 Virtual Conference. 8-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 11-13. This conference is one that will inspire change, promote access and inclusion for people with DD. Register here
  • Virtual Family Q&A: Special Education, School and COVID-19. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. Free session however you must register here.
  • Intelligent Lives Screening. 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 on free on Zoom. The film will be followed by a brief panel discussion. Click here to register
  • Dining in the Dark-A Virtual Experience. 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14Learn more here about this interactive, virtual event to increase awareness of the challenges faced by those with vision loss. 
  • Pediatric to Adult Transition of Care: Getting Teens "Ready to Adult". 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16. Join the Epilepsy Alliance Ohio for an informative fall educational series covering a wide range of topics. Learn more here.
  • SALT Talks Teens-Discovery About Me & My Interests! 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17.  Email questions and/or to participate.
  • Common Threads Network - Annual DODD updates. 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Nov. 18 on Zoom. Learn more about budgetary updates, ways that Ohio's DD service system is responding to challenges and more! Register here
  • Neighbors in Action-Advocacy. 4-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19. Learn about advocacy and discuss topics such as voting, transportation, technology and more. Click here for details.
  • What is a Neuropsychological Evaluation & How Can it Help your Child with Epilepsy. 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23. Join the Epilepsy Alliance Ohio for an informative fall educational series covering a wide range of topics. Learn more here.